WELLFLEET (CBS) — A Cape Cod beach was closed for several hours Wednesday after a shark bit a surfer’s paddleboard.
It happened around 10 a.m. at Marconi Beach in Wellfleet.
The paddleboarder, Cleveland Bigelow, was not seriously injured.
“I didn’t see it, either coming or going, the shark. The impact was like being on a bicycle and getting hit by a car. It was just this bang! Really intense,” Bigelow told WBZ-TV.
“I knew what it was. My leg hurt a lot because the board had come up and I had a hematoma. I looked down and I go ‘OK everything is there! I need to get out of the water and I turned and paddled in.”
Bigelow estimated the shark was five to seven feet long. Scientists believe it was a great white shark.
The attack prompted officials to close the beach to swimming.
“Per our protocols, any kind of shark sighting, confirmed shark sighting or incident, the beach will be closed to swimming,” said Kathy Tevyaw, interim Superintendent at Cape Cod National Seashore
It was reopened around 2 p.m.
The shark bit the board as Bigelow was about 30 feet from shore, in three feet of water.
“It actually was about 75 yards south of our lifeguarded beach, but that’s fairly close,” said Tevyaw.
The shark bit the board during high tide and on calm seas.
Bigelow knows the sharks are in the area because of all the seals and says the incident could have been a lot worse because there was a surf school near him at the time.
“I’ll continue to surf, there are parts of the world, other species of shark that are much more unpleasant than the great whites,” Bigelow said. “Clearly if this guy, you know if this guy was interested in eating people, there was me and then there was 30 kids. Hit my board, goes not a seal and then left. That’s what happened.”
A seal was attacked by a shark on Nauset Beach Monday, just feet from shore packed with swimmers and beach-goers.
Tevyaw said Cape Cod National Seashore warns swimmers not to swim near seals, which are hunted by sharks.
“We’ve had concern about keeping swimmers safe for quite a few years as we’ve seen more evidence that sharks are here on Cape Cod,” Tevyaw added. “They’ve always been here, but it’s certainly raised awareness in the last five years or so.”
These incidents come at a time when local officials are debating how to best keep Cape Cod’s beaches safe.
Barnstable County Commissioner Ron Beaty is proposing a measure he’s read about being used in Australia and South Africa–barrels offshore of beaches with baited hooks. Sharks would be caught on these barrels and killed.
Beaty said it’s just a matter of time before someone gets hurt.
“The problem is growing worse by each year,” said “I’m 100 percent sure somebody will be killed or maimed, and my worry is that it’ll be someone’s child.”
Critics, like charter captain Brad White of Marshfield Hill, said it’s the exploding seal population that is the real problem.
“I can understand how scary it is, and I know this time of year, everyone likes to amp up the ‘Jaws’ movie,” he said. “But the bottom line is, there are only 50 known great whites out there, and 50,000 seals.”
White said those seals should be culled–and praised the Marshfield Harbormaster’s program that uses buoys that are pinged by known great whites, giving harbormasters time to evacuate a beach if necessary.
Beaty agrees about the seals, but thinks more immediate action is necessary.
The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy says Beaty’s proposal is, “ill-considered, indiscriminate and will not influence beach safety.
The Cape Cod National Seashore said their own staff, as well as members of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries and the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, were investigating Wednesday’s incident.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Kendall Buhl reports